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Home Entertainment Movies & TV 9 Things You May Not Know About Jim Henson (And His World)

9 Things You May Not Know About Jim Henson (And His World)

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Presented By Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow On Lifetime

16950-jim-henson-mainPhoto Credit: The Jim Henson Company

For six decades, the name Jim Henson has been connected to a world of characters that are as rich and diverse as the world we live in.

There’s Miss Piggy, The Muppets’ fashionista who can speak some French and defend herself with karate. There’s Jen the Gelfling, who inspired us with his bravery in The Dark Crystal. There’s Mokey Fraggle from Fraggle Rock who reminds us of at least one artistic, boho friend.

Still on the air, Henson’s creativity shines through characters like Buddy from Dinosaur Train, a curious male Tyrannosaurus who likes to ask questions and form hypotheses, and Sid from Sid the Science Kid, who is also inquisitive and humorous, teaching fellow kids why things work the way they do.

As The Jim Henson Company celebrates their 60th anniversary of timeless characters, we're meeting new Henson creatures and seeing a whole new world in Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow on Lifetime. The holiday season will introduce us to this lovable world of puppetry and storytelling as it comes to life from a tale written in 1968 by Henson and his longtime writing partner Jerry Juhl, who also worked with Henson on The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock.

16950-turkey-hollow-1Lisa and Cheryl Henson with the original puppets in the woods of Greenwich, CT in 1968.
(Photo Credit: Jim Henson / The Jim Henson Company)

The movie, recently re-discovered in the Jim Henson Company's archives, premieres on Lifetime on November 21 and stars Mary Steenburgen, Jay Harrington and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and features creatures from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™. Click here to watch the official trailer

16950-turkey-hollow-2Photo Credit: Richard Paris

Henson’s name sparks a flurry of nostalgia, bringing us back to childhood memories, well-known songs, and above all, a world where you never know what you’d see or learn next. Though Henson passed away in 1990, his legacy lives on in Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ and the Jim Henson Company. As the Company celebrates 60 years of classic programming, we're sharing unique facts about the puppeteer, artist, and visionary!

9 Things You May Not Know About Jim Henson

16950-jim-henson-charactersPhoto Credit: Jim Henson Company

1. Puppet Master: Jim Henson created over 2,000 Muppets during his lifetime, many of which have become household names and favorites – especially Kermit the Frog! Henson made an early version of Kermit the Frog while working on his first show Sam and Friends in college.

Some say Kermit was named after Henson’s childhood friend, but the puppet guru simply liked the sound of the name. Henson said, "He was called Kermit. The name has been with him since the beginning.”

16950-puppetsPhoto Credit: The Jim Henson Company

2. An Unusual Start: Home Economics to many of us may bring back memories of baking and learning to sew. For Henson, it was a gateway to his legacy! He earned his degree from the University of Maryland in Home Economics, which offered a puppetry course. His insight and understanding of puppets would lead him and fellow puppeteer Jerry Juhl to create unique techniques that allowed them to operate a whole "battalion of soldier" puppets at once (shown above).  

3. Going All The Way (And Underwater): Henson was super dedicated to his craft, wanting his puppets to appear as lifelike as possible. In the opening sequence of the 1979 The Muppet Movie, Kermit the Frog sings “The Rainbow Connection” while perched on a log in the middle of a swamp. Even with a fake set, Henson insisted there still had to be real water, so Henson submerged himself underwater to puppeteer Kermit! 
Now, that's dedication!

16950-dark-crystal-jhc-1Photo Credit: The Jim Henson Company

4. Family Connection: In February 1978, Henson and his daughter Cheryl were stuck at an airport hotel when Kennedy Airport was struck by a New York snowstorm. They spent the downtime working out details of the world of The Dark Crystal on numerous sheets of hotel notepaper. These notes became the inspiration for The Dark Crystal's screenplay.

5. Behind The Music: "Rubber Duckie, you're the one. You make bathtime lots of fun. Rubber Duckie, I'm awfully fond of you." These adorable and iconic lyrics were sung by Henson in the voice of Ernie, creating a beloved tune for any parent to sing with kids when it's time to get clean!

6. Emerald City Inspiration: The Wizard of Oz was the first movie Henson ever watched and remained his favorite until his death. References to the classic film appear in several Muppets projects, and who could forget the adorable The Muppets' Wizard of Oz!

16950-time-piecePhoto Credit: The Jim Henson Company

7. Outside The Box: Henson directed several experimental films and created surreal commercials in the 1960s. These works were avant-garde masterpieces, infused with the same humor, vision and characters that were present in his other works. Some examples include Time Piece (pictured above), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1966, and the The Cube, a teleplay about a man trapped in a white cube.

16950-lion-kingPhoto Credit: theatermania.com / David Gordon

8. A Legacy That Lives On: In his lifetime, Henson established the Jim Henson Foundation, which promotes and develops the art of puppetry. To this day, it is still the only grant-making institution with such a mission. In the first year, the foundation gave $7,500 to a young puppeteer named Julie Taymor (pictured above) who would later win a Tony Award for her groundbreaking puppet version of the Broadway musical The Lion King.

9. And The Music Plays On: Henson's works not only brought a diversity of fun and lovable characters, but quite a few catchy songs. See how many of these you remember, plus hear some new tunes coming from The Jim Henson Company's shows today! (We bet there are a few you didn't know!)

"It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights..."

 

 

16950 turkey hollow small
Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow premieres on Lifetime on Saturday, November 21st at 8/7c. 
The film follows the Emmerson family as they head to the quaint town of Turkey Hollow to spend Thanksgiving at eccentric Aunt Cly's house.
The kids Tim and Annie try to track down the “Howling Hoodoo,” an elusive monster that's been dismissed as mere legend. 
When the Thanksgiving holiday is threatened, the family teams up with some surprising new friends to save the day!

 

 

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